Trademark Class 25

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Trademark Class 25

Trademark Class 25 covering apparel is likely the most popular trademark class with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Class 25 is one of the 45 trademark classes that is recognized by most first world countries since the Nice Agreement was signed. The Nice Agreement was meant to simplify the registration and protection of trademarks.

What is Trademark Class 25?

When registering a trademark with the USPTO, applicants must list at least one trademark class in their submission. Each of these designations are found in the Trademark ID Manual. The shortened title for Class 25 is Clothing, footwear and headgear. While this description makes it easier to categorize certain trademarks, there are still around 180 subcategories in class 25.

The USPTO now receives over 38,000 yearly applications that list this classification. While additional classes are often included in these applications, this means over 10 percent of all trademark applications in recent years have sought protection in class 25.

All products in Trademark Class 25 fall into three distinct classifications:

Headgear

Hats, caps, berets, turbans, visors, skull caps.

Clothing

Shirts, pants, socks, underwear, belts, pajamas, ascots, sports jerseys, wet suits.

Footwear

Shoes, sneakers, boots, cleats, slippers.

This is just a small sampling of the products that fall under this International Class. Businesses that sell clothing items – but do not produce them – are more likely to qualify as retail services under Trademark Class 35. Certain types of clothing would also fall under differing categories if their production is geared towards meeting needs in other classifications.

If you’re certain Trademark Class 25 is appropriate for your registration, it’s typically fine to include the broad description rather than very specific descriptions since it provides broader rights.  Being too specific with the description may limit your rights.

There are 34 categories for physical goods and 11 for services. If your brand offers products that fall into several other classifications, you should include each one.  Doing so will provide the most protection available to your trademark and can help avoid trademark infringement before it starts.

Applications that list multiple classes, though, will go through a more rigorous vetting process by the USPTO. This is because products in different categories will have to be searched in each category to be sure the trademark does not create a likelihood of confusion among consumers.

Clothing Items Outside of IC-25

While Class 25 is a broad category that includes many products, there are also several types of clothing that do not qualify. Some brands may produce goods that fall into this designation and additional classes, but those that solely manufacture the following products will not:

  • Safety clothing – such as pants worn by firemen (Class 9)
  • Skating shoes with attached skates (Class 28).
  • Metal dowels for jeans (Class 6).
  • Textile handkerchiefs (Class 24).
  • Electrically heated clothing (Class 11).
  • Carnival masks (Class 28).
  • Clothing for dolls (Class 28).
  • Surgical clothing for healthcare professionals (Class 10).

Though carnival masks are in Class 28, masquerade costumes would still fall under Class 25. This is why applicants should review the Trademark ID Manual prior to filing an application.

USPTO Searches for Trademark Class 25

Performing a trademark search is not required for federal registration. Failure to conduct a proper clearance prior to submitting an application, though, could result in substantial delays, third-party opposition, and even outright refusal. A thorough search is meant to ensure that no likelihood of confusion would result from registration of your trademark.

The Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) is a resource provided by the USPTO that allows extensive searches. There are several search options, and users can even review design marks by using the Design Search Code manual. These options vary in their level of thoroughness, however, and queries for trademarks under Trademark Class 25 should utilize the in-depth tools provided.  Due to the complexities of doing searches in trademark class 25 and the potential for unregistered common law trademarks, it is recommended that you have a trademark attorney perform your trademark search.

Class 25 Coordinated Classes

The USPTO receives applications featuring a variety of trademark class combinations. In fact, any two classes can be included in any trademark application. There are certain designations, however, that are listed together more frequently than others. These are known as coordinating classes.

The following are all the International Classes the USPTO considers coordinating for Class 25:

  • Class 14: Jewelry.
  • Class 18: Leather goods.
  • Class 24: Fabrics.
  • Class 35: Advertising and business services.
  • Class 42: Computer, scientific and legal services.

Collective marks and certification marks for both goods and services also fall into this group. While class 35 and class 42 are both listed as coordinating classes for class 25, neither of these classes lists anything but other service categories such as class 41 as coordinating.  The relationship between these designations is complex and nuanced, so thoroughly reviewing the Trademark ID Manual prior to filing is essential.

Do not just assume that your trademark only falls into one category. You will end up paying higher application fees by including additional classes, but this is necessary if you hope to effectively fight trademark infringement.

Trademark Registration in Class 25

While your trademark will secure some rights even without USPTO registration, these will be minimal compared to a federally registered trademark. This is a particularly serious issue for Trademark Class 25 since clothing and footwear make up nearly 30 percent of all counterfeit items seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  When you apply through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) and receive registration, you gain the ability to have CBP confiscate any infringing items that reach the nation’s border.

When filing a trademark application, remember to always perform a trademark search first.  The money an applicant feels they’re saving can quickly be lost through forfeited application fees, delays in registration, costs of Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) hearings, and outright refusal of your application.   The USPTO examining trademark attorney will conduct their own search, so it’s beneficial to know what they’ll find before beginning this process.  A search can also help to notify you of infringements that you might not yet know about.

Remember that you can only achieve registration when commercial use has occurred. You can file an Intent-to-Use Trademark application if this has yet to take place, and this will get the process started so you can immediately secure some trademark rights. Until you can file a statement of use, though, you will not secure full rights over your trademark.

Trademark Class 25 Specimens

An evidentiary specimen is required for each class listed in your application for trademark registration. This must show how the identifier is presented to consumers, and it must also prove a direct link between the trademark and goods/services being represented. This requirement is typically easier for brands that offer physical products rather than services.

The following items are all acceptable specimens for Trademark Class 25:

  • Trademark printed directly on a shirt label (e.g. a label in the neck of the shirt).
  • Logo printed on a box of shoes.
  • Trademark printed on the hang tag attached to a pair of pants.
  • Sales displays set up near the apparel in retail outlets.
  • Website that features the trademark in close proximity to apparel on a page where a purchase can be made.

Expansion to Other Classes

Just because your product starts out in Trademark Class 25 does not mean it can’t expand. Brands spreading into new markets account for a portion of the 4,000 to 4,800 trademark lawsuits seen in federal courts yearly. If your clothing company starts making jewelry, for instance, you may unknowingly be infringing on a jewelry brand with a similar name that has prior use.

Trademark law does have a “natural zone of expansion” for trademark rights so this issue may not always be cut and dry. If a trademark owner notices a similar trademark being used within their zone of expansion, options include a trademark cease and desist letter, opposition, and cancellation. These cases are judged on whether consumers would believe the goods/services emanated from the same source.

Several issues can be considered during these hearings:

  • Will the expansion depart from the owner’s current business? The need for new trade channels, employee skills or technologies typically means items aren’t within the expansion zone.
  • Are the types of consumers who purchase the current offerings the same as those who will purchase the new goods/services?
  • Do other brands that offer the same current goods/services also provide the expanded products or services the trademark owner is claiming?

If you believe you’ll soon expand outside of Trademark Class 25, it’s often a good idea to file a new application as soon as possible.

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